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VPN Articles & News | Facial Recognition App To Make Anonymity A Thing Of The Past | Discounts | Reviews
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Facial Recognition App To Make Anonymity A Thing Of The Past

Monday, November 21st, 2016

A new facial recognition app is proving to be a big hit in Russia but it has also sparked concerns that anonymity in public places could soon be a thing of the past. Developed by the startup company NTechLab and launched a couple of months ago, the FindFace app allows anyone to upload a photo of a total stranger and search it against a database of almost one billion images in order to discover the true identity of the subject.

Since its debut, FindFace has garnered 500,000 users plus it has been used in over 3 million searches. The app works by matching pictures against the images found in public profiles of VKontakte, one of the biggest social networking platforms in Russia having more than 300 million users. The app not only returns the most likely match but also 10 more profiles whose profile pictures look similar to the photo uploaded by the user. The algorithm behind the app is so advanced that it was directly competing with Google’s own efforts in the area of facial recognition. However, users cannot conduct unlimited number of searches; only the first 30 searches are free after which the app becomes a paid one.

The developers of the app believe that FindFace could revolutionize dating since it allows people to find the real identity of strangers whom they like to date. However, privacy advocates have also warned that the app could signal an end of the privacy in busy and public places. The app has already been used by a St Petersburg photographer to discover identity of people travelling in the city’s metro as well as by social media users to uncover the profiles of adult actresses. NTechLab claims that the app has also been used by law enforcement officials to solve crimes that were committed years ago. The founders of the startup are even in talks with Moscow’s authorities to make the app work with the city’s CCTV cameras to solve crimes. Among its other uses, the app can also be used by retailers to make target advertisements to members of general public who were window shopping or glanced through a particular item at a store.

While other online giants like Facebook and Google have developed facial recognition algorithms, they are not as invasive as the FindFace app. Facebook has a popular auto-tag feature that uses facial recognition feature to tag people within photos uploaded on its website. However, it is not yet possible for developers to crawl through every Facebook profile and match their profile pictures with other images. Google, on its part, has admitted to pursuing facial recognition efforts but ultimately decided to abandon it citing privacy concerns.

When asked about the privacy implications of the app, the founders simply said that we already live in a world where electronic gadgets are recording many details about us every single minute. He also said that it is not possible to halt the march of technology and people must understand that they would be in constant spotlight of technology even if they don’t want it. Meanwhile, if you want to protect your identity from facial recognition softwares and apps, you must consider using a blurred, low resolution or unclear photo for your social media profiles.

November 21, 2016

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